Mr Adams,

The Federation of International Touch (“FIT”) has reviewed your recent application to transfer your playing eligibility from Cook Islands to New Zealand ahead of the FIT Touch World Cup 2019 and details the decision below.

1. Panel and Process

Under Clause 5.4 of the FIT Eligibility Policy (April 2018 Version) (the “Policy”), FIT referred this case from the FIT Secretary General to a three person panel comprising Gary Reynolds (FIT Event Commission Chair), Cindy Nieuwoudt (South African Touch Association), and Michael Short (Scottish Touch Association). Each Panel member had one vote and a decision would be taken based on a basic majority of votes.

2. Documents Reviewed

The Panel reviewed the following items:

  • The Policy;
  • A written submission from you as follows:

    I feel the Cook Islands Touch Association have a firm touch development program currently in place.

    I was part of this development/campaign for the lead up to the 2011 WC.

    I am confident they have a solid foundation in place and I can step aside as I have done my part to develop the game back in the Cook Islands.

    I would like to continue and represent NZ in the Masters grade as I currently reside in NZ.

    The practicality and costs for Cook Islands does not fit my needs and cannot travel to Australia for trainings where the campaign is currently based.

    Please consider my application and contact me for any further information.

  • Documents relating to your change of representation from New Zealand to Cook Islands in advance of the FIT Touch World Cup 2011;
  • A summary of your playing history.

3. Regulatory Considerations

Your playing history is noted as follows:

  • Cook Islands - 1999 World Cup
  • New Zealand - 2001 Trans Tasman
  • New Zealand - 2002 Trans Tasman
  • New Zealand - 2005 All Nations
  • New Zealand - 2007 World Cup
  • Cook Islands - 2009 South Pacific Games
  • Cook Islands - 2011 World Cup
  • Cook Islands - 2015 World Cup

This means that this request amounts to your third change of representation, under Clause 5.2.2 of the Policy. Such changes are permitted under the Policy but only where you satisfy Clauses 4.1 (basic qualification), 4.2 (3 season stand-down), 4.3.1 (NTA requirements), 4.3.2 (Gender criteria), 4.3.3 (Age criteria), 4.3.4 (local Touch involvement criteria), and Clause 5.2.2 (extraordinary circumstances for 3rd change).

The Panel noted that these requirements are cumulative and non-satisfaction of any one individually renders your participation in the FIT Touch World Cup 2019 in breach of the Policy. Therefore, the Panel chose to assess them in reverse order as the most pertinent issue appeared to be Clause 5.2.2.

4. Factual Considerations

Clause 5.2.2 requires that for a 3rd change of representation to occur the requesting player must:

Satisfy FIT (exercising its sole discretion) that the change in Representation is required due to an extraordinary set of circumstances resulting in the change of Representation being in the best interests of the sport of Touch and which maintains the integrity of fair sporting competition and the reputation of FIT and the sport of Touch. (emphasis added)

This test is strict, given that a 3rd (or more) representation is a rare occurrence and that, if left ungoverned by FIT, such a number of changes of representation can amount to a risk of damaging the integrity of international competition through the manipulation of the rules. The Panel were clear that there was no suggestion that you are seeking to do anything other than exert your right under the Policy to request a 3rd change and that this request was not in any way an attempt to manipulate the rules.

However, taking the three underlined sections in order, the Panel were unanimous in believing that Clause 5.2.2 was not satisfied in this case:

Extraordinary Set of Circumstances

The Panel did not note any change in your personal circumstances. It was understood that you currently reside in New Zealand and that you have done so during the entirety of your 16 year representative career (including the two periods representing the Cook Islands). The only change of circumstances noted was the potential that Cook Islands have been sufficiently developed as a Touch nation to no longer require your personal involvement in their development. This was not regarded by the Panel as an extraordinary situation.

Best Interests of the Sport of Touch

The Panel did not note any benefits to the sport of Touch through this change in representation. This is not to say that players are obligated to take actions contrary to their self-interest, of course players should be entitled to request and benefit from eligibility changes for personal gain. However, the Policy requires a 3rd change to be in the interests of the sport as well as the individual. No particular sporting benefits were seen by the Panel in this case.

Maintains the Integrity of Fair Sporting Competition

The Cook Islands have entered three teams to the 2019 World Cup – Mens Open, Mixed 30 and Mens 35. You are age eligible for all three of these teams so this 3rd change of representation is not mandatory for you to be able to continue your international career.

We finally note that New Zealand Touch stated that you wish to play in the Mixed 30 division. If the transfer were allowed this would see you competing against your current member nation which the Panel believed to be contrary to the stated aim of maintaining the integrity of international competition.

5. Decision and Appeal

On the basis of the above, the Panel unanimously decided that Clause 5.2.2 was not satisfied in this case and that the request for a 3rd change in representation should be declined. No assessment of the other Clauses or facts were undertaken.

In accordance with Clause 5.4.6 of the Policy, this decision will be made available to the public.

You may appeal this decision in writing to the FIT Secretary General within deadlines set by the Policy.

This Panel agreed that this decision does not preclude you from requesting a 3rd change in representation in the future should the circumstances change.

Gary Reynolds
FIT Event Director